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Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of…
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Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of Famous Shipwrecks (2004)

by James Delgado

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Q: Why is a book about underwater archaeology like a shipwreck?

A: Because both run the risk of having been looted of their content.

James Delgado is a trained archaeology who does most of his work investigating ships and shipwrecks, and he has produced several books on the subject -- often thematic, as when he examined the ships and sailors who searched for the Northwest Passage in the nineteenth century. Those books are often extremely interesting.

This, one of his later books, is again about underwater explorations -- but the only real theme is Delgado's presence at the sites he's explored. This is a genuine problem, because it prevents us from getting a real overview of what is going on. It's like sticking pins in a map and going there. Sometimes you'll see something great and interesting. Sometimes you'll visit -- New Jersey. (Or Toledo, or Kansas, or whatever is your personal version of The Really Boring Place.) And, because Delgado is always hopping around, you never learn much about any of the individual shipwrecks he discovers. Plus, far too much of it is about the actual task of diving -- interesting to some, maybe, but I'm in it for the history.

The result is very uneven -- although you'll probably find one or two accounts you'll find interesting (I was interested in the fate of Leopold McClintock's Fox), four or five pages later, you'll be involved in something else which is likely to be much less interesting.

If this book were four or five times as long, so that we could get all the history on each particular wreck, it might be truly fascinating. As it is, I really wanted to jump ship before it sank. ( )
  waltzmn | Nov 26, 2016 |
The topic is extremely interesting, but I don't think Delgado is a particularly captivating writer. After a while, all the stories faded in to one another - a history of the ship told in emotionally lurid detail, then a brief description of their dives down to see the wreck. I think I would have preferred more detail devoted to those second parts of the story, as that's what I find the most fascinating. ( )
  391 | Apr 11, 2012 |
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Epigraph
His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were -- about hanging and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main.
     ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, TREASURE ISLAND
Dedication
This is for my mother, who had to tolerate human bones and stone tools in her bathtub as I learned about the past as a teenage archaeologist. And for making her cry as a middle-aged archaeologist who dives in dangerous places because, as she points out, I'll always be her little boy.
 
This is also for Ann, who keeps the hope fires burning while juggling a career and an often missing-in-action archaeologist.
 
And last, for Beau, my faithful feline companion during many an evening's writing marathon. It's not the same without him.
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FOREWORD
by Clive Cussler
Ships and their crews have been sailing off into oblivion since the dawn of recorded history.
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Leading archaeologist and consummate storyteller James Delgado takes readers on a rollicking deep-sea dive into his highly unusual life's work: locating and exploring the world's most famous shipwrecks. Colorful characters, near misses, and the thrill of standing -- or floating -- in history's footprints make for a highly entertaining look at the fascinating history and glittering bounty beneath the waves. Included are accounts of Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, and Bikini Atoll, site of the world's first nuclear tests.… (more)

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